Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.”
Psalm 18: 19
“Unto Himself! Nor earthly tongue can tell
The bliss I find, since in His heart I dwell;
The things that charmed me once seem all as naught;
Unto Himself I’m brought.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Go up now, look toward the sea. And he (the servant) went up and looked and said ‘There is nothing.’ Elijah said, ‘Go again seven times.’”
1 Kings 18: 43
“5 Lessons On Prayer From Mount Carmel-
Lesson 4 Perseverance”
“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
Hebrews 12: 1
If I had been on Mount Carmel with Elijah, how many times would I have gone to see if there was any sign of impending rain?
In my own life, am I willing to persevere even in the darkest times when no light is visible?
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
Corrie ten Boom
“The testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work so that you will become fully developed, complete, not deficient in any way.”
James 1: 3, 4
Elijah heard the initial report from his servant, “There’s not a cloud in the sky.”
At first I wondered why it was that Elijah sent his servant out to the edge of Mount Carmel to take a look over the sea, checking for a sign, any sign that rain was on the way. Then I found some interesting facts about the weather patterns in the geographical region where Mt. Carmel is located. It seems that many of the storms bearing rain come onto the land off the Mediterranean Sea.
Obviously, having lived in this region most of his life, Elijah was well aware of storm patterns. This is why he asked his servant to be a look-out, watching for the appearance of anything that would signal rain was on the way.
But here is where our story gets even more interesting. After one response that there was “nothing” in the sky, Elijah told his servant to return and scan the area seven times. In fact, here is how the Bible records Elijah’s message, “Go again seven times.”
Fascinating isn’t it?! I wondered about the number “seven.” It is a number which is frequently found in Scripture. We are told that the creation of earth and all of it took six days with the seventh day being a celebration of the Creator’s completed work. A day the Bible says God, “rested…from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2: 12, Amplified Bible). The week of creation ended symbolizing wholeness -- a job completed. And while the Bible doesn’t specifically say the same thing about Elijah’s work for God on Mt. Carmel, I don’t find it out of character to look at this event and find a completion to God’s ministry through Elijah as he prayed repeatedly -- seven times to be exact -- for the rain to return and the drought to end. Indeed, on returning to take another look for the seventh time, Elijah’s servant reported that somewhere in the sky was a “cloud as small as a man’s hand arising out of the sea.” Now that’s a small cloud. Hardly noticeable to human eyesight. But true faith doesn’t need much prompting. And Elijah’s faith was large enough to grasp the reality that even a cloud, no bigger than a man’s hand, meant something huge in God’s world. His prayer had been answered. Rain was on the way. It was worth it to persevere for as long as it took to see, with his own eyes, the fulfillment he longed for.
One of the singular joys of studying so much here in the Garden as I write each day’s devotional lesson is that a great deal of my preparation is undertaken by reading –- a wide variety of authors and books. And since for me, personally, reading has been such an enjoyment, having to scour through historical volumes or finding authors who I have not previously known about has, in many cases, opened a whole new world to me -- and I hope to you, too.
One of the most fascinating authors I have come upon as I studied deeply into the life of Elijah was George Matheson. I had heard of this Scottish theologian and preacher before but only as the author of one of my favorite old hymns, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” This is what George Matheson said about writing this beloved song: “I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm…this came like a dayspring from on high.” I’d like to share the comforting words from the first verse:
“O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
I share these words with you because it was from a heart touched by life’s pain that George Matheson wrote. By the time he was in his early twenties, he was totally blind and his fiancé, not being able to bear the thought of marrying a blind man, called off their wedding. Still wanting to contribute productively to God’s work, with the dedicated help of two of his sisters, George earned two degrees at the University of Glasgow after which he accepted a call into the ministry. I love the insightful way author and pastor Warren Wiersbe describes the depth of the writings penned by George Matheson during his life: “George Matheson was blind, but with the eyes of his heart he could see farther and deeper than most of us.” I take time to share with you the background on this man of God because his own words about a persevering spirit, which endures sorrow and trial means so much more in the face of all the struggles which plagued his life. Here are his words: “We conquer -- not in any brilliant fashion -- we conquer by continuing.”
Too frequently in my own life, I have found that what was the most important quality missing from my prayer life was perseverance -- the ability to endure. To stick it out. To keep praying no matter the obstacle thrown in my way.
The great American inventor, Thomas Edison, observed that, “our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time.” And in the case of Elijah, it meant you would go and look for a sign of rain -- seven times if needed.
We don’t just need patience during the “waiting times” in our lives. From Carmel’s heights we learn that we must also persevere and endure until the answer comes. As Washington Gladden so eloquently wrote:
“In the bitter waves of woe
Beaten and tossed about
By the sullen winds that blow
From desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors that faith has cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast
To the things that cannot fail.”
Keep your eye on the horizon and watch for the sign from God. It may be small at first, but keep going back and watching. As many times as you need to. Keep persevering in your prayers for your answers will come!
“We are called to endure and not grow weary or give up, but to hold fast.”
Benedict of Nursia
“Here comes a call for the steadfastness of the saints, the patience, the endurance of the people of God, those who habitually keep God’s commandments and their faith in Jesus.”
Revelation 14: 12
“Lord, You lead us by ways we do not know, through joy and sorrow, through victory and defeat, beyond our understanding. Give us faith to see Your guiding hand in all things; that being neither lifted up by seeming success not cast down by seeming failure, we may press forward wherever You lead, to the glory of Your name.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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